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The Sunday morning tv wonk shows emphasized numbers. The number of soldiers who’ve died in Iraq. The proportion of people who will vote for Kerry. The share of voters who will vote for Bush. The percentage of Catholics who attend religious services at least once a week. The total of Catholics who only attend church on holidays.

I sat watching these pundits, thinking, “I am an individual, I am NOT just a number.”

And then I realized that they’re all right – as much as I’d like to argue against it.

I can’t get through a day without flashing one of my numbers:
– a social security number
– a credit card number
– a phone number
– an employee number
– a drivers license number
– a bank account number

And that’s just off the top of my head.

As for the pollsters, I’m counted in lots of percentages –
– the percentage of college-educated females who will vote for Kerry
– the percentage of single, white females who feel the President lied about weapons of mass destruction
– the percentage of Americans who have traveled abroad
– the percentage of Christian non-hispanics who are pro-choice
– the percentage of Americans with hi-speed internet at home
– the percentage of single females who bought a major appliance in the last six months

I feel my defenses go up each time I read or listen to the results of the latest polls…. “what do they know?” I think. I am not so easy to predict. I am an individual goddammit!

As much as I’d like to feel comforted by the idea that some of our leaders aren’t placing emphasis on poll results, I know it’s a lie. And pols have become masters at orchestrating public opinion – at influencing poll results.

Is it a bad thing that life can be summed up neatly by the results of a simple survey? For a short list of poll topics, go here.

Who’s got your number?


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